So this week, I had a date with a black goat.
No, no, I wasn’t delving into the art of black magic or practicing self-sacrifice to a satanic lord. (been there, done that in my last relationship ahaha! I’m laughing here but its really not that funny…see earlier posts)
I signed up for a bi-weekly volunteer work day at Black Goat Farm and Sanctuary, and Thursday was my first day!
Now I already volunteer for occasional events at my local humane society, and of course I’ve adopted numerous dogs, cats, birds, hamsters, fish and snails over the years. I’ve shared sandwiches with our backyard chicken, and recently even fed baby racoons from a bottle! (awwwwww…let’s all say it together)
But I really just fucking love farm animals. I don’t know why. Cows, goats, sheep, pigs, chickens, ducks, I just love them. Especially cows. They are just so huge and gentle, with the most beautiful eyes and soft, rounded lips, just like my spaniel. They actually kind of make me think of ginormous dogs. I like the fact that we can interact with farm animals because over the millenia they’ve been domesticated so much, and they are so trusting they basically know their lives depend on us. They are so misunderstood and mistreated, I feel a special bond with them and a special desire to take up their cause in particular.
So I am really committed to the demonstrations against factory farming and the inhumane farming practices. Helping out at the Sanctuary was a new experience for me and one which I had been hoping to do for some time. Getting right in there, down and dirty, building barns, slogging manure, birthing babies…..ok well not that but I just wanted to interact with farm animals, ok?!
Of course, the day before my scheduled work day, I was sick with a fever and congestion. Really sick. Unable-to-scrape-myself-off-the-couch sick. Tissue-stuck-up-each-nostril sick. Anyway, I took some Dayquil, made a strong coffee in my travel mug, grabbed the Halls, and drove off anyway, armed with my rubber boots, rain poncho, and trusty phone for pictures. (Oh the pictures!)
These folks are super nice and bought this farmland with the intention to open a much-needed rescue. They operate solely on donations or their hard-earned money at their day jobs, and their mission is to raise awareness as to how livestock is treated in society. They are recently creating a schedule for volunteers to help out with the day-to-day management/work on the farm.
And it’s no small feat, as I soon found out.
When I first got there, I guess you could say I was like a grinning child: I ran up to all the animals to hug them, “Who is this? Which one is this? OMG LOOK AT THIS ONE?” It was kind of neat because I had them on my Facebook and IG and so I felt like I already knew some of them, but here I was actually petting them! Once I had hugged every single cow, goat, and sheet, and had calmed down a bit, we grabbed our tools: shovels and brooms, and started the arduous job of cleaning out the barn so the floor could be prepped and new hay laid down.
The main barn used to be a chicken warehouse, and was now converted with some large stalls and a huge open space for everyone to play. And play they did.
It was a rainy day, grim and overcast, so first of all, none of them wanted to be outside. They clustered around us as we worked, extremely curious about who we were and what we were doing, playing with each other and bumping against us as we worked. It was not unusual to be sweeping away, feel a bump which nearly took me off my feet, and turn to see Zoey the Heifer peering at me curiously. I had to stop what I was doing multiple times to talk to them and pet them and hug them. That’s when I noticed Zoey’s soft mouth was like my spaniel’s, and then I was like “Omg you’re like my dog, Omg I Love you!” Calvin, the Jersey, at one point decided he wanted to help bring the filled wheelbarrow to be dumped, and turned it over back onto the concrete floor.
Then there was Maple, the crippled goat. In her past situation, she was being raised for meat, her leg was somehow broken there but was never set so it healed all broken up. Then due to her leg not being set properly, she was actually rejected for meat, was just going to be euthanized for no reason. Simply because she was not needed. Black Goat Farm to the rescue! And now, she gallops around on three legs, and plays head-butts with Millie, another goat, as if there was nothing unusual about her at all.
Luna is a Heifer, so gentle and quiet, with both eyes missing. In her last situation, she developed some eye issues, but it was not tended to because, well vet bills are expensive and what did she need eyes for anyway? So her painful and uncomfortable condition was left untreated. When Black Goat Farm got her, her eyes needed to be removed in order for her to heal. Today, she is the calmest, quietest girl you could ever see, with no fear of her surroundings, despite having lost her vision.
Many of the animals there have similar stories; some were dumped; some, like the pot-bellied “mini” pigs were adopted as pets by uninformed people and eventually surrendered, some were rescued from horrific circumstances, and sadly, some were rescued from deplorable conditions, treated by Black Goat Farm’s vets, and yet didn’t make it.
It’s truly heart breaking to hear the stories of what the beautiful and tender beings have been through; it’s emotionally debilitating to me to know there are thousands out there still experiencing it. Some at factory farms hooked up to milking machines, babies ripped away and tossed into a veal crate; standing butt to jowl in cramped transport trucks with no water or food for days, in extreme heat or cold, as they are carted to their death; some forced to bear litters in small metal crates over and over again with minimal to no veterinarian care because people really love bacon!
When you meet these beings in person, when you’ve watched their silly antics, when you’ve looked into their eyes, you really don’t see any difference between them and the animals we consider “our pets”. Why does society see them this way? Quick answer? Because we have been raised to think of certain animals as “products” not sentient creatures.
Serial killers dehumanize their victims to make it easier to torture and eventually kill them for whatever their nefarious purposes are. Their victims are a means to an end, to satisfy some cruel and evil blood lust, and the way I see it, factory farming is basically the same thing.
There is absolutely no good reason for eating animal flesh and consuming dairy in this day and age, with all the knowledge we have about health and wellness, and all the many plant-based options available now. If you truly want to make a difference in this life, for the environment and for yourself, stop eating meat. I know a whole truckload of living beings who will thank you!